Alicante Museums – from the world of miniatures to motorcycles

During your visit, you can learn more about the region’s loud and colourful fiestas, its regional produce such as chocolate or rice, its rich naval past or its position in one of the world’s greatest round-the-world yacht races.
Taste of Valor chocolate

Chocolate lovers should make a date to visit the Valor chocolate museum in the old fishing town of Villajoyosa, near Benidorm. This is tasty more-ish chocolate so a trip to the museum is a real treat as you can enjoy a few free samples at the end of the tour. The museum is in a typical 19th century country house with the trip beginning with a short video telling how Valor became master chocolate makers in 1881. You will find out about the different varieties of cocoa and how it is cultivated. A tour of the factory shows how chocolates are made. The final stop is at the museum shop where you can try the gourmet chocolates before you buy. Free entry.

Free entry. Alicante Museums – from the world of miniatures to motorcycles

Looking down on the Volvo Ocean Race, Alicante

Enjoy challenging Volvo Ocean Race

In October, Alicante has the honour for the third time of being the starting point of the prestigious round the world Volvo Ocean Race. Visitors to the museum in Alicante marina can test their sailing skills and find out about the challenges that lie ahead for these competitive sailors. The museum is based at the race’s state-of-the-art headquarters. During your visit you can see the celebrations for the race’s 40th anniversary and get a close view of the NASA-inspired race control. Interactive displays means visitors can get a feel of what it must be like to battle against skilled sailors on the world’s toughest seas. Free entry.

Fine arts are in the MUBAG

Fabulous collection of fine art from the Middle Ages to the early 20th century are housed in an 18th century historic palace in the centre of Alicante. About 500 paintings and sculptures are on display including prominent artists from the region such as Vicente Lopez, Antonio Gisbert and Joaquin Agrasot. Many of the works from the 16th to 18th century have a religious theme as the church was a great patron of the arts at the time. The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions and concerts throughout the year. As well as the impressive art collection, historians will also appreciate wandering through the palace with its imposing stone arches and grand staircases. Free admission.
Good Alicante Museums – from the world of miniatures to motorcyclesGood things in very small packages

Stunning Guadalest, home to some strange museums

As if being a breathtakingly beautiful mountain town wasn’t a good enough reason to visit Guadalest, it is also home to a variety of weird museums.

One of the strangest is the museum of miniatures, where you see little objects through magnifying glass.

The collection includes the Statue of Liberty on the eye of a needle; Goya’s painting, The Nude Maja, on a fly’s wing; another Goya painting replicated on a grain of rice; an elephant on a mosquito’s eye; Picasso’s painting Guernica on a seed; plus the impossible – a camel walking through the eye of a needle.

Admission is €4 for adults and €3 for children.
Toy story in Denia

Older people will enjoy a trip down memory lane to a more innocent age. Youngsters may also be fascinated by a time when toys were made of wood and imagination played a major part in children’s games. The Toy Museum in Denia celebrates the town’s toy industry from 1904 to the 1960s. Many of the toys are made of wood or metal with the special collection of tricycles, bicycles and pedal cars
being of particular interest. Wooden bowling sets, exquisite sailing boats and horse-drawn carts are
also among the many fine exhibits. Free entry.

entry. Alicante Museums – from the world of miniatures to motorcycles

Vintage toy car in Denia
Bathing rituals of the Romans

Visitors can step back even further in time to see how the Romans lived at this open-air museum in Alfaz del Pi, near Benidorm. Roman baths are renowned throughout the world and are a fabulous attraction. At Alfaz’s Roman Villa Museum, visitors can enjoy an introduction to the Romans’ bathing rituals almost 1,500 years ago. Water symbolizes purity, health and well-being and the Romans took these bathing rituals very seriously. It was an important daily event to relax the body and mind after a hard day’s work. The baths form a small part of a larger site which is still being excavated and includes a large necropolis or ancient cemetery, mausoleum and a villa dating between the 4th and 6th centuries. Entry is free for children and €1.50 for adults.

Vintage cars are the stars

Fabulous collection in Guadalest of more than 140 motorcycles and vintage cars from the early 20th century to the 1970s. These are beautiful vehicles with polished wood and real leather interiors. The museum is the pride and joy of local resident Ricardo Freca who has been passionate about historic cars and bikes since he was a child. The world-class collection includes top names such as Vespa, Ducati, Lambretta, BMW and Harley Davidson. The family restaurant El Riu is on site where you can enjoy a great barbecue or traditional rural Alicante dishes. The success of the restaurant helps Ricardo to build his fantastic collection. Price is €3 for adults and €1 for children.

€1 Alicante Museums – from the world of miniatures to motorcyclesTorrevieja submarine museum

Going deep into naval historyFor non-submariners this is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to take a look inside these monsters of the deep. Torrevieja is home to the first Spanish naval ship to be turned into a floating museum. Visitors can take a look inside the S-61 Delfin-class submarine to see just how cramped conditions are for the crew. Imagine what life must have been like to live at the bottom of the sea in the sub for weeks or months on end. Not surprisingly, this is one of the most-visited museums in the region. Entry is €2.Moors and Christians in AlteaThe reenactment of the battles between the Moors and Christians takes place in many towns in the Alicante region. It is a very colourful and noisy fiesta to dramatically act out the historic moment when the Moors took over many parts of Spain and then were overthrown by the Christians. If you can’t get to the actual fiesta, the Moors and Christians museum in Altea gives a taste of what you are missing. In the Casal Fester museum you can see the costumes and characters which bring this fiesta to life. Entry is free.

life. Alicante Museums – from the world of miniatures to motorcycles

Pego marshesLittle grains of knowledge in PegoPaella is the symbolic dish of the Valencia region, which is where much of the rice is grown. The Bomba rice cultivated in Pego is argued to be one of the finest rices for making the many varieties of paella. In the town’s Etnologico museum, visitors can find out how rice is grown and how it is sold. You can also take a walk around the rice or paddy fields. These marshlands have been used for growing rice since the 13th century. Entry is free.

Top 10 markets in Alicante

Most towns and villages hold a weekly market with stalls selling an abundance of household goods and souvenirs such as leather shoes and bags, football shirts, colourful pottery and clothes. Once a week, some towns also hold a weekly fruit and vegetable market with local produce straight from the fields. It’s a great experience and the prices are generally much better than the supermarkets. It can also be fun to dodge the ladies (and a few gents) armed with shopping trolleys.

Alicante indoor market

Warm Top 10 markets in Alicante

Warm welcome in historic Alicante

Alicante’s daily indoor market is held in a lovely old building in the historic city centre. The fish stalls are a real eye-opener with dozens of different species including the famous Denia red prawn, tuna steaks, sardines, sole, crabs, cockles and mussels. You can pick all the ingredients for a fantastically fresh dinner here with many meat stalls and colourful vegetable stalls packed high with local fruit and veggies. Other stalls specialise in smoked fish, home-made sausages or plump stuffed olives. It’s a large market over two floors with friendly stallholders jostling to sell their wares. In the square outside the market is a large flower stall with bouquets and fruit trees. The market, open from 7.30am Monday to Saturday, is in an interesting modernist-inspired building similar to a basilica with various decorative features and a large stairway.

Top street market in Torrevieja

Every Friday morning Torrevieja hosts one of the largest and busiest street markets in Spain. Up to 1,200 stalls cram into the New Torrevieja streets creating a scene reminiscent of Arab-style markets. The market is a haven for shoppers who come in their thousands of scan the stalls in search of a good deal. This is a great market for bargain clothes such as T-shirts and jeans, textiles, interior design, craft work and shoes as well as fresh fruit and vegetables. The market is quieter in the winter months but is very crowded in the summer.

Wine barrels in Jalon

Turning Top 10 markets in Alicante

Turning back time in Jalon

Antique lovers and bargain hunters would be advised to head for the rural mountains of the Marina Alta region on Saturdays. There is a fabulous second-hand market in the car park along the riverbed in Jalon selling everything from precious antiques to bric-a-brac and souvenirs. Collections may include paintings, brassware, old wooden furniture or souvenirs. The market attracts many tourists, some of whom are tempted to hire a pitch to sell their own wares from Germany, England or Holland, for example. While at the market, it’s worth hopping across the road to the Xalo Bodega which sells local wines, cava, olive oil and honey. Some of the wines such as have won national or international awards and are great value.

Music and market stalls in Benidorm

Benidorm is awash with bargains from food and drink in the bars to trinkets and clothes. However the markets are still definitely worth a visit for their atmosphere. Each Wednesday from 8am to 1.30pm, the area around the Municipal de Foietes sports stadium comes alive with market stalls selling a variety of produce including fresh fruit and vegetables, home-made sausages, bread, dried fruits, shoes, bags, souvenirs, electrical and household goods. An antiques market is held on Saturday and Sunday mornings at El Cisne, next to the Benisol campsite, with live music to add to the entertainment.

Sausages sold at market

Orihuela Top 10 markets in Alicante
Turn back the clocks in Orihuela

Every winter, the historic streets of central Orihuela provide a stunning backdrop for the annual medieval market. One of the biggest and best in Spain, the market relives the Middle Ages with jousters, jesters, tournaments, puppet shows and dancing. Hundreds of stallholders sell home-made crafts, clothes, food and drink. The vast market is spread out over three kilometres so be sure to leave enough time to drink in the atmosphere and enjoy the fun over the three days.

Denia sets out its stall for tourists

Hundreds of tourists head to Denia for the popular Monday morning market with rows of stalls taking over a massive car park on the edge of town. It’s a bustling, colourful affair where shoppers can enjoy churros (doughnuts) and hot chocolate from a mobile café during their walk around the market in the Torrecremada park. During the summer it’s a slow stroll from stall to stall because of the sheer numbers of visitors including holidaymakers and locals. Bargains to be had include leather bags, shoes, belts, cloth, terracotta pots, colourful jugs and plates, clothes, household items, food and brightly-coloured sweets.
Fresh fruit piled high in the market

Javea Top 10 markets in Alicante
A taste of Spain in Javea

Every Thursday morning, the large square Plaza de la Constitucion is crammed full of stalls selling everything from fresh fruit and veg to clothes. The square is at the top of the old town, so you can visit the daily indoor market too. The weekly market is a typical Spanish affair with colourful stalls selling bargain clothes, shoes, household items, pottery, leather goods and fresh local produce as well as fish and meat products. You can do your shopping for the weekend, enjoy great prices and help the local traders at the same time.Open-air Curiosity Shop in El VergerOne of the busiest and biggest markets in the Alicante region, El Verger is an open-air Curiosity Shop with about 350 stalls selling antiques, bric-a-brac, jewellery, clothes, plants, fresh fruit and household items among others. You can enjoy a hearty breakfast at one of the bars in the industrial estate before weaving your way through the crowded market held on Saturdays and Sundays. Some of the stalls also sell freshly-squeezed orange juice and hot dogs offering a range of delicious sausages. Often, there is live entertainment including music or children’s activities.Market makes waves in Santa PolaThe popular beach resort of Santa Pola in the south Costa Blanca región is a great area for shoppers. There are some great shopping centres around here. People looking for a bargain or a souvenir should head for the outdoor market held on Mondays and Saturdays next to the Red Cross centre. On Monday mornings, the market is best for kitchen products, clothes, shoes and leather goods. On Saturdays, food takes centre stage with fruit, vegetables, salted fish and meat, sweets and dried fruits on offer as well as plants, shoes, leather goods and household wares. Fresh fish and prawns in the market

Hooked Top 10 markets in Alicante

Hooked on Calpe fish market. Most seaside towns will have a fish market selling fish and shellfish straight from the boats. One of the finest is in Calpe where a fish market is held when the boats come in at around 5pm from Monday to Friday. The fish market in the port is worth a visit just to see the building which is decorated with six paintings showing Calpe’s rich seafaring history. Visitors can see the many varieties of fish and shellfish which are caught in this part of the Mediterranean during the auction. Depending on the time of year, this could include tuna, bass, hake, octopus, squid, mackerel, crabs and red prawns.

Alicante’s pink and green salt lakes

The bustling coastal resort of Torrevieja is home to an amazing feat of nature. As you drive into the town from Alicante airport you will pass between two salt lakes – one is blue/green and the other is an impressive pink colour.

The La Mata and Torrevieja natural park is a rich haven for flora and fauna. These salt lakes are also the reason why Torrevieja developed from a little fishing village to a working town in the 18th century. The lagoons provide a restful place for a walk or picnic. Strangely, the Torrevieja lagoon is pink and is where the salt is extracted while La Mata lagoon is green.

 

Although vegetation is scarce in the 3,743 hectares of natural park because of the salt water, there are some interesting types of salt marsh, reeds, shrubs and evergreens.

The main attraction for bird lovers is the flamingos where up to 2,000 can be seen during the breeding season. Many of them will turn a gorgeous shade of pink from eating the shrimps in the water. There are about 100 types of wading, aquatic and marine birds plus other animals in this protected natural park. As well as the flamingos, you may see osprey, grebes, stilts, harriers, terns and gulls. Animals include several types of snakes, toads, geckos, rabbits, hares, weasels, hedgehogs and foxes.

Torrevieja’s fortunes turn around

 

The town’s fortunes turned around at the beginning of the 19th century when the then King of Spain, Carlos IV, ordered salt production to be transferred to the Torrevieja lake from the nearby La Mata lagoon. Torrevieja prospered and is now home to more than 100,000 residents, including many foreign expats who have set up home here.

 

The park is about 3,700 hectares.The pink lake is 1,400 hectares and the green one is 700 hectares. Both are connected to the sea by canals.

Why is the lake so pink?

 

The strange pink-purple colour of the Torrevieja lagoon is caused by pigments of the Halobacterium bacteria which lives in extreme salty environments. This is also found in the Dead Sea and the Great Salt Lake. The colour is also caused by an alga called Dunadiella Salina, which is responsible for the bright red colour of the lake seen at certain times of the year. The Artemia Salina brine shrimp, which lives in the lake, is also red because it feeds on the bacteria. You will also see the flamingos turn a lovely shade of pink because they eat the shrimps. The salt is produced from the south-east corner of the pink lagoon.Mountains of salt

 

Production tends to take place when Torrevieja starts to heat up in June and ends in October. The process begins when the sea water is carried to La Mata lagoon. The salt lake is four metres below sea level which is enough to open the gates of La Mata canal to let the water pass through. As it reaches the green salt lake, the water starts to evaporate. At this time, the water contains about 30g of sodium chloride (common salt) per litre. After the water evaporates, the salt level rises to about 150g per litre. At this point, the water is carried to the Torrevieja lagoon, where the salt level soars to about 300g per litre. It is at this key moment that the process of crystallisation takes place and the salt starts to solidify at the bottom of the lake. Now it is collected.

At one time, this was done manually with one worker hitting the salt to break it up and another loading it into a boat. Nowadays, a special machine does the work. The machine, which looks similar to a tank, moves through the lake lifting the salt and loading it on to a conveyor belt. This carries it to barges waiting at the side of the lake. Paddle boats – similar to Mississippi river boats – act as tugs to drag the barges on to an artificial island the middle of the lake. The salt is unloaded on to another conveyor belt and washed several times to get rid of any impurities such as clay. After this, it is taken to the side of the lake and deposited into large salt mountains.

 

The pyramid shape prevents rain water from washing away the salt as it simply runs off the sides. The salt is then split into different categories and sizes depending on its final use. Altogether, there are 14,000 different uses for salt including making glass, PVC manufacture, and in the textile, chemical and pharmaceutical industries. It is also used to de-ice the roads.

The Torrevieja salt is moved directly to the ships by conveyor belts linked to the ports so it can be exported abroad. Norway is the main importer while Italy, Portugal, UK, USA, Ireland and Denmark are also major users. Within Spain, Torrevieja salt is sent to Galicia for use by food companies and to Catalonia and the Basque country. Nowadays, the Torrevieja lakes produce 700,000 tonnes of salt a year and is still a very important industry for the Alicante region.

 

The current leaseholders has guaranteed salt production until at least 2039 so it will continue to be a profitable business for the area. As part of the agreement, the company has also agreed to invest in environmental improvements and to help promote the salt industry as a tourist attraction. Visitors can learn about the history of these amazing lagoons in an interpretation centre, which proudly boasts that the Torrevieja salt industry is one of the most important throughout Europe.

Unique works of art in Torrevieja

 

In the Salt and Sea Museum, you can see some beautiful model boats which have captured the crystallisation process of the salt. The old clipper boats, as well as other objects, are made of cotton and placed in the salt marsh. The salt sticks to the string to create beautiful shapes of crystallised salt. This craftsmanship of salt boats is unique to Torrevieja and is advised to be on the agenda of must-see activities for any visitor.

Unusual places to see in Spain

 

Spain’s location has always made it a natural bridge between Northern and Southern Europe, Africa, the Americas and the East. Culture and history aside, the natural landscape on offer is just staggering. From the Costa beaches, to some of Europe’s highest mountains, buzzing cosmopolitan cities, to far-flung tiny villages. Spain has it all.

How about some of those off-the-beaten-track destinations? Places near some of Spain’s bigger tourist destinations yet which feel as if they are a million miles away.

Here are five of our favourites.
A train journey through “Mars on Earth” – the Rio Tinto mines

mines Unusual places to see in Spain

Rio Tinto Huelva

Rio Tinto, translated as “red river” is considered by many to be the birthplace of the Iron and Copper age.

Situated in southernmost Andalusia, in the Province of Huelva, Rio Tinto is a mine with a history. A history of over 5,000 years. Early records show that the Iberians and Tartessians first began mining the area. They were later followed by the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Visigoths and Moors.

Gold, silver, copper and other minerals were all extracted. “Mars on Earth” is a favourite with NASA scientists who come to explore how life can survive in such extreme conditions.

The high iron content and acidity make the river unsuitable for swimming….but one journey that should be high on anyone’s list is the 22-kilometre train journey which winds first through the mines and then through the lush vegetation that borders the Sierra de Aracena and Picos de Aroche Natural Park.

A journey of unforgettable colours and contrasts.
A walk through Setenil de las Bodegas, Cádiz

Cádiz Unusual places to see in Spain

Setenil de las Bodegas Cadiz

The village of Setenil de las Bodegas in the Province of Cádiz must be high on anyone’s list of unusual places to visit in Spain.

This village of 3,000 souls takes living at one with nature to a whole new level with many people’s homes seemingly supporting the mountain that sits above them. Not a good place to live if claustrophobic. But definitely a good place to see for a day trip.

Walking through the village is a memorable experience. It’s also home to one of Spain’s best olive oils – be sure to pick some up.

For more information on Setenil de las Bodegas in the Province of Cádiz
A sunset to remember – the temple of Debod

Debod Unusual places to see in Spain

The temple of Debod, Madrid

A stone’s throw from the Plaza de España and located within one of Madrid’s most beautiful parks, the Parque de la Montaña, sits an ancient Egyptian temple.

This 4th-century BC temple originally stood in Egypt’s Nile Valley but was shipped, piece by piece, to Spain in 1968.

It was given as a gift to the Spanish government in recognition of their help in saving historical sites that were to be flooded when the Aswan High Dam was built.

Surrounded by a lake which reflects the temple from every conceivable angle, it’s arguably the best place to watch the sunset in Madrid.

A photographer’s dream come true.
Cowboy country – the Tabernas desert

desert Unusual places to see in Spain

Cowboy country – the Tabernas desert

The only official desert in continental Europe, Tabernas is no stranger to sunshine and extreme temperatures.

If looking for a Spanish holiday with almost guaranteed sunshine, Almeria is the place to go. The desert captivates all that see it. Including some of the biggest names in Hollywood, having set the scene for numerous spaghetti Westerns, including such classics as ‘A fistful of dollars,’ ‘For a few dollars more,’ and ‘The good, the bad and the ugly.’

A visit to the Mini Hollywood is highly recommended. The replica wild-west town provides enough activities to keep the whole family entertained.

Ever fancied being a cowboy for the day? This is the place to do it.
A walk through dinosaur country – El Torcal Natural Reserve

Reserve Unusual places to see in Spain

El Torcal Natural park, Antequera

The El Torcal mountain range sits just outside of the town of Antequera in the geographical heart of Andalusia. It’s an area that captivates all who see it.

The karst formations are amongst the most spectacular to be found anywhere in Europe. They have been formed over millions of years and feature rocks that pre-date some dinosaurs. The limestone was part of the seabed that dates from the Jurassic period some 150 million years ago. The whole area was under the sea of Tetis.

There are several walking routes around the park. They provide a great way to see and experience El Torcal first hand. Children, in particular, will have the time of their lives, walking through tunnels and caves while hunting for fossils……it is dinosaur country after all!

For more information on the El Torcal natural reserve.

Five fab things to do on holiday in Benidorm

Spain’s Costa Blanca is famous with us British holidaymakers for the stunning location,spotlessly clean beaches, very friendly locals and of course plenty to do and see whilst on vacation here. A great holiday in Benidorm can be had here for almost any budget and any taste, and it certainly has some surprises!
surprises Five fab things to do on holiday in Benidorm
Certain sections of the British media has, for the past few years, not been very complementary to Benidorm, some would suggest, and images of lager louts, riotous hen parties and “Madge” scooters recklessly driven by drunk old ladies, seem to dominate the papers, but is it really like that?
Well, in some ways, this still exists, it is after all the party capital of the Costa Blanca, but Benidorm is a very large place and if you know where to go, and where not to go, the sort of things like this can be avoided without any problem.
So without further ado, we present five great things you can do here, all of which are either free or cheap, to make your Benidorm holiday a bit different this year.
1. Hit the beach! But which one?

One of the first things people seem to do when they come to Spain on holiday is to go and see the beach, and if you are someone who lives inland in the UK, such as the Midlands or London, just a glimpse of the sea, the soft sand and the glorious sun above, can set the scene for the whole week.
whole week. Five fab things to do on holiday in Benidorm
There are 3 main beach areas in Benidorm and they are Levante (meaning Sunrise), Poniente (meaning sunset) and Finestrat beach, which is much quieter and at the southern end of this vast metropolis.
Levante beach is the main one, the most busy, and the most “British” and it is the default location for many sun seekers but it’s not the best by a long shot. The promenade is lined with noisy and overpriced bars and discos and to be honest, we avoid the area, although it’s up to personal taste.
A more relaxing holiday can be had in the old town (in the middle of the photo above), or the Poniente beach end which is more “Spanish” and is to the left of the photo.
2. Which theme park to choose?
As befits a busy and established tourist resort, there are plenty of theme parks to keep the kids happy, and of course the thrill seekers amongst us old fogies too!
old fogies too Five fab things to do on holiday in Benidorm
Benidorm’s theme parks are located in various spots on the outskirts of the town and include:
• Aqualandia: A water park, perfect for those hot days in the summer, and the place is packed with various water based activities.
• Terra Mitica: A traditional type of theme park with exciting rides, shows and displays to keep you entertained for the whole day.
• Terra Natura: a 79 acre animal and pet based theme park allowing you to get up close and personal with some of Benidorm’s more furry residents!
• Mundomar: A mini sea world with various displays and lots of aquatic based mammals and birds to see.
• Aqua Natura :Linked, in part, to Terra Natura, and is another water based theme park.
3. Horsing around!
Benidorm is not the first place that springs to mind when talking about horses, but located just on the outskirts are several riding schools that offer various horse based activities such as pony trekking, or for the more experienced, there is dressage, carriage driving and a whole lot more besides.
lot more besides. Five fab things to do on holiday in Benidorm
You don’t have to be an expert to experience the gentle plodding of your horse, sat high up on its back, meandering through scented pine forests with the warm sun beating down on your back!
4. Spot the stars of the ITV show Benidorm!
As I write this, filming is just about to start for the new series of the popular ITV1 show “Benidorm!” and there are various places that you can spot the stars of the show, although please don’t hassle them if you do see one of them!
The hotel where the show is filmed is actually the Sol Pelicanos, which is about 3 streets back from Levante beach, in the Rincon de Loix area. We took a look in the hotel after they had finished the 4th series and its quite weird to be sat at Mateo’s poolside bar, and as a non resident you are allowed to go in and see for yourself.
see for yourself. Five fab things to do on holiday in Benidorm
Other locations include various places in the Old town, well worth walking around anyway, and Morgan’s Tavern, a Cabaret showbar located at Calle Girona and is the set for Neptunes bar. Other locations include The Benidorm Palace, Levante beach and just walking or driving around the town, you will for sure encounter other places you recognise too.
5. Shop ‘til you drop!
Benidorm, being such a large place, has a lot of shops, in fact it has LOADS of shops to see, some are just the everyday Spanish run type of nick-nack place, standing cheek to jowel with some of Europes most famous names, and there are of course the usual places like Eurotabaco where you can buy up all your cheap cigarettes for your holiday and to take home too.
home too. Five fab things to do on holiday in Benidorm
A very popular shopping destination can be found in the old town, around the Avenida Martinez Alejos, and along the Passaig de la Carretera and also around the main square, the Plaza Mayor. The Rincon de Loix area also has many shops catering for Spanish, Dutch, German and British people, including some shops selling English food items, next to the now common Chinese “Cheapy” shops selling more or less anything and everything.
If you have a hire car, you can also head over to La Marina shopping centre in Finestrat where you will find names such as Mango, Zara, Casa,Ale Hop, Douglas,Druni, C&A, H&M and more. There is also a busy food court area, several reasonably priced snack bars and a fully air conditioned cinema too.
Whatever the reason you want to take a holiday in Benidorm, you can be sure to be pleasantly surprised at how different it is to what you first thought.

Five Pet-Friendly Spanish Destinations

Being separated from the family cat or dog can be difficult when holiday time comes around. You can avoid separation anxiety, however. Find five pet-friendly Spanish destinations that won’t mind if Spot or Tiddles comes with you.
Alicante

Alicante Five Pet Friendly Spanish Destinations
Alicante promenade

Alicante is the second-largest Valencian city. That makes it more pet-friendly as it’s more than a resort. Also the number of parks make it an attractive option for dog owners in particular.

Another plus point is its climate. Warm to hot in summer, it’s mild in winter. And if the sun ever gets too much, there are plenty of shady areas including gardens and plazas to shelter from the rays. Not least the promenades including the main Explanada de España which offers four rows of palm trees to beat the heat.
Chiclana de la Frontera

Chiclana de la Frontera Five Pet Friendly Spanish Destinations

Chiclana de la Frontera

Many beaches in Spain are dog-free. Not Chiclana’s most famous beach, La Barrosa. The reasoning behind this is because it’s 6km long, there’s room for man’s best friend.

Another place where you can let your pet off the lead in this Cádiz municipality is the Parque Forestal Municipal Pinar del Hierro y de la Espartosa. A sea of green, it’s home to carob, oak, and olive trees. Ensure you don’t get lost by staying on the hiking paths.
Estepona

Estepona Five Pet Friendly Spanish Destinations

Estepona promenade

 

Estepona, with its favourable climate and proximity to Gibraltar Airport, attracts expats. So, it’s not much of a surprise to discover that they’ve brought their pets with them. A playmate for your pet is not going to be a problem in this popular Costa del Sol resort.

Head inland in the direction of Casares, passing the town’s industrial estate. Don’t worry, 5km later you’ll see a turn off for Parque Los Pedregales. Here you’ll discover a gateway to the verdant countryside Estepona has to offer.
Jerez de la Frontera

Jerez de la Frontera Five Pet Friendly Spanish Destinations

Jerez de la Frontera view

Think of Andalucia and you’ll imagine the sandy beaches of the Costa del Sol. Jerez though is the region’s fifth biggest city and the heart of agricultural Andalucia. Therefore, there are plenty of green spaces for you and your pets to enjoy.
Tossa de Mar

Tossa de Mar beach

Tossa de Mar Five Pet Friendly Spanish Destinations

One of the Costa Brava’s original resorts, they’re certainly animal fans in Tossa de Mar. For in 1989, Tossa became the first Anti-Bullfighting Town in the world. Don’t worry, they’re equally pro-canine and -feline too.

Ten family walks in Alicante

Alicante is such a fabulous part of Spain with long stretches of golden, sandy beaches, impressive historic town centres and magnificent mountains. If you can tear yourself away from the beach, there are some great towns and rural areas to explore. Spain-Holiday has managed to choose just 10 great family walks in the Alicante region from strolls along the beach to slightly more demanding mountain hikes. Wherever you are staying, if you pop into your nearest tourist information office, they will be able to recommend walks for you to try.
Tackling the Montgo
This can be a tricky walk towards the end, so you could just do half the walk – so you can enjoy the views – and then turn back. The Montgo mountain rises to 753 metres high, dominating the skyline around Denia and Javea. It is known locally as the Elephant as you can see this magnificent animal’s head and trunk from the Javea side. The walk starts in the Javea shooting range car park where it’s a 10 minute walk to the entrance of the Montgo nature park. The route is signposted so is easy to follow. After about 30 minutes of walking, you will see magnificent views of the cape of San Antonio. You can also enjoy the sights and scents of the forest trees and shrubs such as pine, heather, lavender, rosemary and thyme. Once you reach the red crag (penya roja), there are far-reaching views of Javea, the Ifach rock at Calpe and the Sierra de Bernia mountains. The walk gets tricky now as the track is rocky, so you can turn back at this point.
this point. Ten family walks in Alicante
Learning history in Orihuela
Step back in time with a stroll around the heart of Orihuela’s historic town centre. You may want to leave time to visit some of the museums and churches you will encounter along the way. A good place to start is the Semana Santa (Holy Week) museum, where you can see beautiful larger-than-life statues showing dramatic Easter scenes as well as other memorabilia. After this you can head to the imposing Gothic cathedral, which houses works of art by Velazquez and Francisco Salzillo as well as one of the finest examples of Baroque organs. Walk along the riverbed to the town hall and the beautiful Plaza del Carmen, a picturesque square where you can enjoy a coffee. Keep going up the road to the Rubalcava Palace, former home of the marquis de Rubalcava and his family. Heading back towards town you will pass the Moors and Christians museum, where you can learn about the history of this annual fiesta.
Popping into Polop
Polop is a pretty inland village surrounded by countryside. There is a meandering path taking you around the medieval wall and up the hill to the old castle. Once you reach the top, you will be rewarded with some spectacular views. While here, take a stroll around the narrow streets of the traditional village centre.
Heading for Calpe beach Ten family walks in Alicante
Heading for Calpe beach
Why not prepare a picnic to enjoy a day strolling along Calpe’s lovely beachfront? A lovely one starts in Calle de Mar, close to the Manuel Miro square with its pretty mural telling the tale of the Moors and Christians fiesta. The route heads down to the Arenal-Bol beach and we take a stroll along the Infanta Elena seaside promenade. The walk passes an old flour mill and ends at the Banos de la Reina (Queen’s Baths), which was a Roman fish farm, where legend says a Moorish queen swam after gaining access through a secret passage.
Getting impressed by Maigmo
Let’s head inland to the Maigmo mountain, where you can enjoy an easy stroll along a disused railway path, which was never used by trains! The path is 22kms so you could either break it up or just do a section of it. The old railway line has been turned into a green way, so it is very easy to walk or cycle along. It starts in the pretty little pottery town of Agost. There are a couple of picturesque viaducts with fabulous views of the mountains and countryside, which look great in photos. The first is at Forn del Vidre and the second is at Palomaret. The path ends at the Puerto del Maigmo, gateway to one of Alicante’s most beautiful mountain ranges.
Counting the trees in Elche Ten family walks in Alicante
Counting the trees in Elche
Elche is a fascinating city for its historic buildings, culture and palm grove with more than 200,000 trees – the largest of its kind in Europe. The main square is a very typical Spanish square with the impressive Santa Maria basilica, where the unique Elche Mystery Play, is performed each year. Nearby is the historic town hall building and Altamira palace, which was once a textile factory and a prison. A few minutes away is the Elche Palmeral and municipal park, where you will find thousands of palm trees, including an ancient tree shaped like a candelabra, as well as other varieties of Mediterranean plants. Don’t forget to buy some Elche dates from here – they’re delicious.
Dune walking in Guardamar
Guardamar has some of the finest sandy beaches in the Alicante region, about 10kms of golden sand to play on. Part of the beach is protected by a large fragrant pine forest in the Alfonso park, with the sand dunes being a great place to start the walk. While you are exploring the beaches, make sure you visit La Babilonia, between Guardamar’s most central beach and Els Vivers beach. La Babilonia is lined with old fishermen’s cottages, many of which are brightly decorated with coloured tiles.
Picnic time in Torrevieja
Torrevieja is home to a rare pink lake, which is opposite another green salt lake. These offer fabulous natural havens for a walk. Around the salt lakes are several viewing posts, so you can get a better look at the lakes, which are used to extract 700,000 tonnes of salt every year. During your circular tour, you may spot flamingos, ducks, terns, gulls, rabbits, hares, weasels and foxes. There are benches so you can enjoy a picnic during your stroll around the salt lakes.
Saying hello to Jalon Ten family walks in Alicante
Saying hello to Jalon
Jalon is great to visit at any time but a marvellous walk is in the springtime when the almond and orange blossom is in full bloom. Opposite Bodega Xalo on the edge of Jalon is a car park. Behind this is a riverbed and you can follow the route along here to enjoy the countryside and vineyards. Another walk takes you through the old town which has pretty narrow streets and a large square with the church, where the weekly market is held.
Santa Pola Ten family walks in Alicante
Sightseeing in Santa Pola
A gentle 2km stroll along the Santa Pola promenade is a lovely way to soak up the sun, stop for a coffee or a snack in a beachside restaurant, or take a dip in the sea. The promenade is 7kms long so you can do a stretch along the southern end which links all the beaches in the centre of town.

5 fantastic places to stay on the Costa Blanca

Spain’s Costa Blanca is famous the world over for stunning scenery, clean beaches, friendly locals and plenty to do and see. A great holiday can be had here for almost any budget and any taste, so here are the 5 best places to stay, and why.
1. Benidorm. Party on dude!
1 5 fantastic places to stay on the Costa Blanca
The sprawling and lively city of Benidorm is by far the areas top attraction, with the large majority of sun seekers arriving at El Altet Airport in Alicante heading straight for Benidorm for a week of fun and partying in the sun.
Benidorm makes no shame of the fact that it is a hedonistic place where “Anything goes” (To a limit) and has remained popular with the British for decades.
If you just cannot be without your home comforts whilst away on holiday then Benidorm is probably the destination for you, with loads of quality accommodation in Benidorm to choose from, and plenty of fellow countrymen to meet and share the experience!
2 5 fantastic places to stay on the Costa Blanca
There are plenty of places to eat in Benidorm and it’s not just the stereotypical English fish n chips on offer because it is actually a very cosmopolitan place!
The range of food available when dining out in Benidorm will surprise you; from traditional spanish fayre, to German food, Chinese, Indian, Latvian (!), Irish, Dutch and a whole array of tasty cuisine from more or less any country that ever is!
It’s not quite 24 hours a day partying though as the city is big enough to have quiet areas too, and is very suitable and safe for families. A more relaxing holiday stay can be had in the old town, or the Poniente beach end which is more “Spanish” and is quieter than Levante beach, however Benidorm is packed with things to do to suit all ages and all budgets so you will never be bored on holiday!
2. Happy holidays in Javea
Javea is a smaller town just up the coast a bit from Benidorm and is again a cosmopolitan town, attracting not just the British, but the French, Dutch, Norwegians and Germans too. It is noticeably more “Middle class” than it’s larger cousin, but still retains an air of fun in the sun for the discerning holiday maker.
3 5 fantastic places to stay on the Costa Blanca
Javea is very different from Benidorm, more noticeably lacking the high rise hotels and apartment blocks, and enjoys an enviable climate for most of the year. The British presence here is conspicuous in such a small place and is reinforced with the many English cafes, bakeries, charity shops (!) and even a full size Iceland British supermarket selling more or less everything you could possibly need for a self-catering holiday in Javea.

Javea has lovely golden sandy beaches, plenty of bars, restaurants and things to do and is somewhere for a relaxing holiday with all the home comforts that one could imagine, in fact they even have their own radio station in English (Bay Radio) which is worth listening to as anything that goes on, is advertised on the radio.
3. Altea, an alternative Spanish destination
Popular with German families for many years now, but a viable alternative often overlooked by the British, Altea is a short distance along from Benidorm, but a world apart from it’s neighbour.
It can be found just a short drive up the N332, or it is possible to take a tram from Benidorm to Altea too.
3 5 fantastic places to stay on the Costa Blanca
Although sadly the town is bisected by the busy main road that runs through the centre, the harbour area is delightful and retains the look and feel of a traditional Spanish fishing village.
There are various high quality apartments to rent in the area, and there is plenty to do and see in the town. The beaches are not so good as it’s larger neighbour but the seafront promenade is a lovely place to sit and enjoy a cool beer, watching the world go by, and giving you time and space to relax and enjoy your holiday on the Costa Blanca.
4. Santa Pola
Moving some distance further south, Santa Pola is nearer to Alicante airport and not far from the interesting city of Elche, which if you are renting a villa in Santa Pola, is only a short drive away, with a great array of shops, including the eponymous (but expensive!) department store of El Corte inglés, or the variety of other interesting and varied stores to be found in the “palm tree” city of Elche.
5 5 fantastic places to stay on the Costa Blanca
Santa Pola’s main industries are tourism and fishing, and boat trips can be taken to the wonderful and enchanted island of Tabarca which is the smallest permanently inhabited islet in Spain. It is also a very important nature and marine reserve and dolphins can sometimes be spotted playing in the nearby waters.
Not only that, the Island boasts a quaint but quiet fishing village, an ancient fort, a few very good seafood restaurants, a rocky beach with clear turquoise water, several coves and a scattering of secluded, tidal pools ideal for safe and private bathing.
5. More and more to see in Moraira
Moving back further north up the coast, the town of Moraira is a very upmarket tourist destination 80km north of Alicante and about an hour and 20 mins drive from the Airport. It offers a more relaxed pace of life for the many Europeans who choose to stay in Moraira each year.
6 5 fantastic places to stay on the Costa Blanca
It is certainly somewhere that attracts the monied crowd and is home to many affluent expatriates from the colder climes of Europe, including British, French, Dutch and German.
However that does not mean that only millionaires are welcome here, there is something for everyone, and just browsing through the accommodation available in Moraira will show there is something for most budgets although due to high demand, real bargains are few and far between.
Although the town is another place where fishing is still evident today, it boasts another claim to fame as being an area of high quality grape production, notably the Moscatel grape variety, which is ideal for wine making.
It is an area which, along with it’s outstanding natural beauty, is protected from development and high rise buildings and for a true Spanish holiday, the town has three sandy beaches which are very popular with families.
There is also a glut of rocky coves and inlets which are frequented by snorkelers and scuba divers and basic courses, from approved and licensed diving school are available for the intrepid traveller.
All in all, a visit to the Costa Blanca makes for an enjoyable and unforgettable holiday break for all the right reasons!

A day trip to Altea

A day trip to the picturesque town of Altea, famous for its blue and white tiled roofs and many art galleries and studios. See a different landscape on the way there and enjoy a day of walking along narrow, winding streets, looking out over the sea from a village up in the mountains and finish it all off with a coffee or drink in one of the many bars and restaurants at the small port. An absolute must on the list of the five best day trips.
All about Altea

All about Altea A day trip to Altea

Located just about 15km north of Benidorm, Altea is a very different kind of holiday resort. Divided into an old and a newer part, and separated from the harbour by the somewhat unfortunate run of the N-332, it´s nonetheless a haven of peace and quiet.

Altea is the seat of the Faculty of Fine Arts of the University of Elche and it’s art in all its forms which dominates the atmosphere of this charming town. Be it music, literature, sculpture or painting, you can´t take a few steps in Altea´s old part without running into an art gallery, a bookshop or see paintings hanging from the balconies of houses and tiny squares.

Outdoor paintings,Altea

Eye catching and a landmark of Altea, are the brilliant blue and white glazed tiles which cover the cupola of the Church Nuestra Senora del Consuleo. Narrow streets, bordered by well kept houses lead in all directions, often ending in platforms from which you can either see the Mediterranean as far as the peon of Calpe, or the peeks of the Sierre de Bernia in the background.

All about Altea2 A day trip to Altea

Street,Altea

The bay of Altea, down below has several beaches and, of course, the crescent shaped harbour, mooring place for plenty of yachts of all sizes and a lovely place to visit one of the restaurants to sample the typical rice dishes of the area.

The newer part of town which lies at a lower level than the old one, is reached by steps and has many of the shops you will find in other places too. An exception is a small chocolate confectionary, the speciality of which are dark chocolates made with olive oil and filled with olive paste and another which is topped by a few crystals of coarse sea salt, a very savoury combination.
What to do in Altea

Walk around and enjoy the different scenic views. Climb up and down the steps connecting the streets and peer into courtyards filled with flowers. Visit the church, the interior of which has a beautiful baroque altar and glass cupola.

What to do in Altea A day trip to Altea

Interior of church,Altea

If you are looking for gifts or need some decoration for your own home, you have come to the right place. You will find handmade candles, sculptures of all sizes, paintings and any other kind of decorative objects, from hand painted umbrellas to bags and scarves.

What to do in Altea2 A day trip to Altea

Handpainted umbrella,Altea

Rest your feet and enjoy a coffee, drink or meal in the shade of tree bordered cafes in the old town or down at the port.

Cafe,Altea
How to get there

A day trip to Altea from Torrevieja is one which lends itself to two different ways of getting there.

One is by car, taking the AP-7or N-332 to Benidorm and from there north following the road signs to Altea, climbing steadily higher.

Another way is to take a Costa Azul bus from Torrevieja to Alicante or else drive to Alicante. From there take the local train, also called TRAM and marked with a T in a red circle. Head to RENFE, then turn right into Avenida de la Estacion until you come to Plaza de los Luceros which is also the terminal for T. Catch L1 to Benidorm, then change to L9 which heads for Denia.

The train ride along the coast is delightful. You´ll see the fabulous beach of El Campello and the theme park Terra Mitica near Benidorm.

Do not alight at the stop Altea, which will leave you in the new part of town and requires quite a long hike to reach the Town Hall and the old part, but get off at the next stop, Garganes and you are right in the middle of things.

Connections at Benidorm tend to be good and fast and the entire journey takes about 1 1/2 hours. The return ticket costs €6.50 pp and you´ll get a time table at the Luceros terminal to plan your return journey.

If you choose the bus/train combination, bear in mind that the last bus from Alicante to Torrevieja leaves at 8pm, which is quite early. Miss it, and it´s a taxi at approx. € 45 as opposed to the bus fare of € 4.50. If you set off from Torrevieja early enough, you have ample time for a leisurely day out in Altea without worries about where to leave your car or getting lost at the many roundabouts.

 

 

Top 5 Beaches – Costa Blanca

 

Recently we looked at Benidorm, and the top 10 FREE activities there – great ways to save a few cents, especially if you’re travelling with a family – every little helps as they say. One of those things to do was to visit the great beaches of the area. it’s not called the white coast for nothing. We looked at two beaches close to Benidorm itself, but there are of course lots more to choose from. Let’s look at the top tanning spots – the top 5 beaches of the Costa Blanca.

Beach, Costa Blanca

The Perfect Plan – of Inaction Top 5 Beaches   Costa Blanca
The Perfect Plan – of Inaction.

Wonderful as it is to explore a new destination, sometimes all you need from a holiday is a total wind down. A well stocked Kindle or that paperback you keep meaning to start, a decent sun cream, and a soft towel. A week of horizontal healing, as you top up the tan and feel the rays of Spanish sun melt away your worries and stress. Sound like a good plan?

Before you reach for your hand luggage, let’s see where’s the best place to go. Spain has miles and miles of coastline to choose from – but millions of visitors every year can’t all be wrong. Flock with them to the white coast, soak up some sun, relax and discover some, or all, of the top 5 beaches on the Costa Blanca.

Beach, Costa Blanca

1. El Paradis – Villajoyosa Top 5 Beaches   Costa Blanca
1. El Paradis – Villajoyosa

What’s in a name? Well, El Paradis says it all then! Choose your spot on the 1km of fine golden sand. Well equipped too with facilities such as lifeguards, loos, play areas, beach-side bars and restaurants if you’re feeling peckish. A great beach for families – it has the coveted Blue Flag – this is one to visit with the kids.

Where is it? Villajoyosa lies just 32 kilometres from Alicante. You can get off the plane and be there in an hour – what a great first day to your holiday. Worth mentioning also is Playa La Caleta in the same area. Clean and clear waters, and plenty of opportunity for trying out some water-sports here too – it’s the home of the local Club Nautico. Villajoyosa is famous for the manufacture of chocolate, no wonder the name translates as ‘Joyful Village’!

An apartment to rent in Villajoyosa.

Beach, Costa Blanca

2. La Granadella – Jávea Top 5 Beaches   Costa Blanca
2. La Granadella – Jávea

This one comes up in the nominations time and time again. Jávea itself is a popular spot with holiday makers, and it’s really not surprising at all. La Granadella is a perfectly shaped horseshoe of pebble, but don’t let that put you off. It’s very fine, and behind the beach sits a forest of Aleppo Pine trees, so you can sleep surrounded by the twin scents of salted sea air, and fresh pine….add to this dreamlike scene the gentle lapping of the waves, and you’re hooked like a baited fish.

Where is it? Jávea has superb road connections to both Alicante and Valencia and is quite charming, made up of the Old Town, the port and of course the stunning sandy beaches – an ideal holiday spot.

Holiday rentals in Jávea.

Javea

3. Les Rotes Dénia Top 5 Beaches   Costa Blanca
3. Les Rotes, Dénia

Picture rocks and golden sand, an afternoon peering into rock pools with the kids, excellent scuba diving, and private coves. Want it all in the same place? No problem, just get down to Dénia on the Costa Blanca, and head for Les Rotes where it all awaits. Forgotten your bikini or even your mankini (er, probably best)? There’s even a nudist area too, so again, no problem.

Where is it? Right between Alicante and Valencia, Dénia is well situated. There’s a castle amongst other areas to explore when you get tired of bucket and spade life. You can even venture further afield and take a trip to Ibiza, if you fancy island life for a day.

Lovely places to stay in Dénia.

Denia

4. San Juan de Alicante Alicante Top 5 Beaches   Costa Blanca
4. San Juan de Alicante, Alicante

Situated to the North of Alicante, you can even take the tram to the beach of San Juan, where you’ll find 8 kms of golden, fine, soft sand. Disabled access, lifeguards, toilet facilities, bars, restaurants and even a Blue Flag too. Like beach life but he gets bored? Pack him off to the nearby 18 hole golf course – sometimes being a golf widow can be really rewarding! Pass me that sun cream….

Where is it? To the north of the city, drive, take the tram, you could even catch the bus. A beach accessible to all. Like a party with an atmosphere? Then pitch up here for San Juan, the beach celebrations at midsummer, where you can join in with bonfire jumping and ritual cleansing – if you want!

Holiday rentals in San Juan.

San Juan, Alicante

5. This list is too short El Carabassí near Santa Pola Top 5 Beaches   Costa Blanca
5. This list is too short! El Carabassí near Santa Pola

Gently sloping, safe, clear waters – a parent’s dream. Your little ones will be safe and sound here, with soft golden sand thrown into the bargain. Popular with Spanish families too, take a picnic and spend all day here, bring plenty of parasols for shade. Lots of shacks selling ice cream and treats – keep up that bottled water intake – and bars for a coffee or a plate of food if you haven’t brought the kitchen sink. Bring your binoculars too – not for the design ated nudist area, but for spotted birds of the feathered variety, this beach is surrounded by salt pans and wetlands, great territory for waders.Where is it? Santa Pola is between El Altet and La Marina, south of Alicante. In fact 15 kilometres of beaches dot the coastline hereabouts, you’ll be totally spoilt for choice – explore them all!A place to stay in Santa Pola? Plenty of rentals here to choose from.Just 5? No, way more await – that’s just a small sample of some of the best beaches long the Costa Blanca – hey, what’s your favourite?